Bad omens at the moment of truth
In the elegant booth on the first floor of a restaurant that no longer exists, Jesus of Polanco He was waiting for us with a practical smile and a handshake. The restaurant was a classic Buenos Aires and was on Avenida de Mayo, and in previous reincarnations they had sat at their tables Mitre, Darío, Lugones, Gardel, Caruso, Joan Crawford and Maurice Chevalier. Polanco’s legend, in the world of Spanish politics and in the history of global journalism, was no less impressive: he made the newspaper an event The country of Madrid and raised an empire called Hurry. The times were running Fernando de la Rua, and Polanco cited reference journalists from newspapers and magazines because he wanted to get a realistic idea of how things were going: he was thinking of investing in Argentina, but he harbored certain doubts. He let us talk all through lunch and when he paid the addition and separated the tip, he smiled again doing mental calculations and asked a sharp question: “When will convertibility end??”. All the diners – from left to right – responded with strange unanimity: never. And we explained to him that society had “bought” that fixed exchange rate system, that no leader could win the elections if he proposed to cancel it, and that consequently he had come to stay. Still holding bills, Polanco leaned forward: “No, you have not understood -he told us-. The question is not if it will end, but when: in the next few months or in the next year? Because I assure you that the outcome is inexorable”. Even so, we got up from that table with canchero skepticism. Some months later the IMF he let go of the Government’s hand, a macroeconomic accident occurred and the sad episodes of 2001 occurred. When that catastrophe finally unfolded, I thought of that afternoon with Polanco: the smartest and best-informed guys on the media block had made a terrifying mistake, but the This episode does not seem to me today to be confined to the area of the press or the failed prophecies of professional economists. The horizon was much wider. The denial then encompassed all public opinion and the vast majority of so-called ordinary people: the people. That collective denial is somewhat similar to the mirage of the Malvinas war, when international observers assured us that we were marching towards a defeat and any of us denied it with stubborn blindness. Something similar is happening in these months: we citizens believe that we are conversing in a cocktail party full of gestures when in fact we attended a wake. A way of doing politics and of thinking about the economy and development has died, and since no one has issued a death certificate, we all move on – the headless hen that runs a few meters more – without accepting the obvious reality, that sooner or later we it will wake up screaming, as it does every time we hit rock bottom. Herein lies probably the unspeakable of the historical moment. Disprovers of this hypothesis will argue that our nation has proven to be a slide without brake (it can always be worse), and that therefore there is an infinite lethargy and decline ahead, but whoever has lived through four decades of Argentine politics with his eyes wide open -as requested Hemingway– knows or senses that we are approaching some kind of milestone. You have the feeling in your body that a major change is coming – you never know how good or bad – in our pattern of consciousness.
The true Argentine “miracle” consists in turning a deaf ear -once again- to so much evidence and so many warnings. One day not too far away the strident truth will wake us up
It leaves us with a similar taste, although around something more circumstantial and immediate, the soap opera with the Fondo. Various internal and external sources admit that the final crossroads has been reached (negotiation or slamming the door, as presented this week by the Spanish newspaper The world); also that time is running out, that there are alarms lit everywhere by the irreducible signals of the heralds of Cristina Kirchner, that the minister Guzman prepares a plot victimization in case of default, that when that fatality arrives, an “emancipatory” discourse will spread (pure and simple Galtierism), and also that this alternative will condemn us to be lumpen in the world and with an annual inflation that some consultants already projected at 85%. Since it is hard to believe that the “national and popular movement” would carry out such a patriotic suicide (because it would be, all things considered, a true betrayal of the country), this columnist tends to think that he is forcing the bid to then loosen up, that he is pressing the accelerator towards the abyss to turn at the last instant. And that he will choose to lose a story before losing everything. This little game, likewise, does not come for free, because it generates measurable uncertainty in lost investment, in job losses and in the liquefaction of reserves, and because you never know if at the appointed time the driver, who is very badass, will maneuver with enough skill over the slippery edges of the abyss.
Examined with a certain foreign objectivity -perhaps as Polanco himself would see it-, the situation seems surreal. The ruling party refuses to cut the fiscal deficit under the multiple lie that it never adjusts or borrows, that it is protecting a fabulous reactivation and that on top of that it fights against privileges. The fourth Kirchner government dramatically adjusted the pensions and salaries of the lower and middle classes via inflation, and continues to do so month after month; it borrowed nearly 60 billion dollars in just two years; All he achieved was to melt Argentina with a senseless quarantine -a 12% drop in GDP-, and then he became a passive spectator of a mere rebound that did not even recover what was lost in that riot. And cases like the VIP vaccination, with the sincere but extravagant elitist explanations of Zannini, Y the trip to the Caribbean Luana Volnovich, who earn his salary managing the misery of retirees, confirm the idea that they reserve for themselves the privileges of all nomenklatura.
They are lucky in something: there are no slingshots or destituents in the opposition, but a coalition willing to damage even their own political capital by seriously endorsing budgetary restrictions. The ruling party, in a delirious way, intends to embark it on a populist non-program that, paradoxically, would not bring major problems to the opponents, but that would throw the country into a blind well. It’s as if Alberto Fernandez he proposed to his objectors, with a wink: sign this that no one is going to blame you because we are not going to make anyone suffer; We’re not going to solve anything either, of course. And as if the opponents called him to reflection and answered him: a serious addict cannot be saved from death without going through some suffering; we are willing to carry that cross with you, but not to sign a program of smoke and mirrors based on continuing to supply the poisonous drug of decadence. This discussion also does not gel because of the simple fact that the disciple of Stiglitz unable to coordinate with Homeland Institute a minimally sustainable fiscal plan. Incidentally: having Stiglitz as a go-and-go lobbyist; believing that it is a champion of macroeconomics is like giving a scientist specialized in flies the management of the pandemic. The true Argentine “miracle” consists in turning a deaf ear -once again- to so much evidence and so many warnings. One day not too far away, the strident truth will wake us up.